The Best Nutritional Supplies for Those Looking to Gain Weight

Brianna Maguire

Written by Brianna Maguire on Tue Jun 27 2023.

Mother and adult daughter eating.

It can be a real challenge for older adults to find the best products to gain weight, and as a caregiver, it can be alarming to see loved ones losing their body weight and vitality. The good news is that many products are available to support healthy weight gain. 

If you're searching for the best products to help your loved ones gain weight, getting to the bottom of the weight loss issue with a medical professional is important. Sometimes, you might need a combination of solutions for lasting, quality body weight gain results.

The Carewell team has compiled this helpful list of the best products to help your loved one gain weight. Based on hours of conversations with dedicated caregivers like you, we have discovered the recommended choices with top caloric and protein values that make them great for different dietary goals. 

The Main Causes of Weight Loss 

Weight loss at a later age can occur for many reasons, which may include:

  • Metabolism changes: These affect digestion and how the body processes the nutrition in food. 

  • Decreased appetite: Older adults may eat less due to hormonal and digestive changes that come with age. 

  • Difficulties with chewing or swallowing: Some individuals may have trouble consuming food, gradually leading to them eating less and losing body weight. 

  • Chronic illnesses: Advanced age might result in the onset of dementia conditions like Alzheimer's Disease, which interferes with a healthy appetite. 

Based on a recent Carewell survey, over half of the hundreds of caregivers that responded reported that they or their loved one needed help getting enough calories. The following list of recommended products works best if you've spoken to a doctor about your loved one's need for weight gain and considered high-calorie supplements as a part of treatment. 

How We Choose These Products

We carefully select each and every product we recommend based on a few key inputs:

  • Gather real caregiver feedback. We read reviews and collect feedback from real caregivers like you. We never recommend a product we haven’t heard a caregiver say they love.

  • Chat with our in-house RN. Our in-house nurse reviews all our recommendations to make sure the products we suggest our safe and vetted. (Note: You should still always consult your own doctor when making decisions about your diet and health!)

  • Prioritized quality and safety. The products on this list come from a range of price points but have one thing in common: we’ve made sure to only include the very best quality options that are the safest for you or your loved one.

  • Talk to our Care Team. Our Care Team speaks to you, our caregivers, every single day about the products they love and hate. We always run our recommendations by them to make sure everything is in line with what our customers love.

When we think about products that are good for weight gain and maintenance we consider a few things:

  • Calorie counts. Higher-calorie items help loved ones gain and maintain body weight much more easily.

  • Delicious flavors. Sometimes, just getting your loved one to eat something they actually enjoy is half the battle. We looked for products that tasted delicious. 

  • Well-balanced nutritional profile. Calories are important, but they aren’t everything! We looked for products with a healthy balance of protein, low sugar, and other vitamins and minerals.

Best Supplies For Loved Ones Looking to Gain Weight

1) Boost Very High-Calorie Oral Supplement: Best For All-Around High-Calorie Needs

Boost's Very High-Calorie Oral Supplement contains 26 vitamins and minerals, 26 grams of fat, and 22 grams of protein, but only 13 grams of sugar. It's the perfect product for managing undernutrition. The amount of goodness packed in these unique Boost products provides enough calories as a meal replacement that your loved ones can enjoy while you're on the road together. 

Hear it from a caregiver

"Great product. I added 12 lbs in one month with regular meals"

- Diane N.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Delicious strawberry and vanilla flavors

  • Gluten-free, kosher and suitable for lactose intolerance 

  • 530 calories

  • 22 grams protein 

Boost Very High Calorie Oral Supplement, Vanilla
Boost Very High Calorie Oral Supplement, Vanilla

Calories per Serving: 530

Price: $60.02

2) Ensure Plus Nutritional Shake: Best For Everyday Weight Management Support

At times, weight maintenance could prove a bigger challenge than gaining bulk. Ensure Plus Nutritional Shake is a top choice, with a specialized formula containing 27 essential vitamins and minerals for optimized meals. Plus, the drink comes in three tasty flavors to vary your loved one's dining experience. 

Hear it from a caregiver

Ordered five 24 packs from TX to be delivered in CA to my mother who is going thru chemo and the only thing her stomach will hold is Ensure Delivery was quick and mom was very happy when she received them. Excellent customer service!!

- Olga C. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • 350 calories

  • 13 grams of protein

  • Delicious flavors: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry

  • Gluten-Free, Halal, Kosher, and suitable for those with lactose intolerance.

Carewell Tip

Cocoa fans may want to choose Boost Plus Balanced Nutritional Drink in Rich Chocolate flavor. The nutritious drink includes the prebiotic PREBIO 1, which strengthens digestion, and 14 grams of protein, ideal for building lean muscle mass, which reduces the risks of fat buildup and obesity.  

Learn more
Ensure Plus Nutritional Shake, Bottle
Ensure Plus Nutritional Shake, Bottle

Calories Per Serving: 350

Price: $14.65 - $71.04

3. Ensure Max Protein Nutritional Shake: Best For Those Seeking A Protein Boost

Protein has been widely known as the building block of body weight gain. Protein requirements usually vary with age, as it becomes harder for the body to break down and utilize the biomolecules, with specialists recommending a protein intake between 1.2 and 2.0 g/kg/day or higher for elderly adults.  

With Ensure Max Protein Nutritional Shake, you can rest assured that your loved ones hit their necessary protein requirements daily. The product contains 30 grams of protein that help fulfill dietary requirements, while its caffeine content (110g) offers an energy boost comparable to a cup of coffee. 

You can conveniently pop open a carton of Ensure Max Protein Nutritional Shake so your loved ones can enjoy a wholesome meal without the hassle. Plus, they can enjoy it hot or cool, benefiting from maximum protein value. 

Hear it from a caregiver

Love this flavor the best, easy way to get in the right amount of calories/protein.

- Terry J.

Key Benefits & Features

  • 150 calories

  • 30 grams of protein for lean muscle mass

  • 22 vitamins and minerals

  • As much caffeine as a cup of coffee

Ensure Max Protein Nutritional Shake
Ensure Max Protein Nutritional Shake

Calories Per Serving: 150

Protein Per Serving: 30g

Price: $12.06 - $50.99

4. Boost Nutritional Pudding, Best For Those With a Sweet Tooth

There's no rule stating that weight gain products should taste like a bitter pill to swallow. In fact, Boost Nutritional Pudding comes in a delicious chocolate or vanilla taste that would satisfy any sugary craving. The creamy dessert goes easy on the digestive system, ideal for individuals with fluid restriction, dysphagia, or malnutrition.

Each cup of Boost Nutritional Pudding contains 7 grams of protein, 230 calories, 8 grams of fat, 32 grams of carbohydrates, and 14 grams of total sugars, providing the perfect immunity boost with a flavorful twist. 

Hear it from a caregiver

My 94-year-old mother likes the taste of the Boost Nutritional Pudding. She is able to feed herself.

- Adrene H. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • 230 calories 

  • Great for those with fluid restriction or dysphagia

  • Delicious chocolate and vanilla flavors

  • Suitable for lactose intolerance, gluten-free, low-residue and kosher diets


5. Ensure Original Powder: Best For Adding Extra Calories To Food

At times, the best products to gain weight come in the form of supplements to complete a meal. Adding Ensure Original Nutritional Powder to food provides a solid nutritional boost to your loved one's diet, including 250 calories, 9 grams of protein, and 25 vitamins and minerals.

Hear it from a caregiver

It’s excellent for adults.

- Minyue W. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • 250 calories per serving and 9 grams of protein

  • Powder can be mixed with water to create a drink, or added to foods for extra calories

  • No refrigeration or special storage required

Carewell Tip

For loved ones looking for quick calories and protein, Benecalorie Calorie and Protein Food Enhancer is a convenient pod that gives food an extra boost. The product's texture complements food and beverages with a thick consistency, such as applesauce, milkshakes, smoothies, and mashed potatoes. 

Learn more
Ensure Original Nutritional Powder, Can, 00750, Vanilla, 14oz, 1ea
Ensure Original Nutritional Powder, Can

Calories Per Serving: 250

Protein Per Serving: 9g

6. Thick-It Food & Drink Thickener, Best For Difficulty Swallowing

Dysphagia or difficulty swallowing can occur due to various age-related ailments, potentially resulting in severe weight loss. Thick-It Food & Drink Thickener blends easily into a meal or beverage to create an enjoyable consistency while potentially reducing the risk of aspiration. 

Hear it from a caregiver

She loves that she can have water to drink again. She doesn't smile often so it's a blessing to me whenever I can get her to.

- Roxie M. 

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Unflavored and easily mixes in to all your favorite beverages

  • Easily digested

  • Amount of mixed powder can be adjusted to meet your unique thickness needs

Thick-It Food & Drink Thickener, Unflavored
Thick-It Food & Drink Thickener, Unflavored

Price: $6.95 - $113.94

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How To Choose The Best Products To Gain Weight For Your Loved Ones

Choosing the best products to gain weight depends on the feeding needs and preferences of your loved ones. Also, it is important to consult a doctor or certified nutritionist before starting a new diet or making changes to a meal plan. 

  • Consider Calorie and Protein Values. Most adult women need 2000 calories while most adult men need 2500 calories daily - but be sure to consult your physician or nutritionist to determine the unique nutritional needs of your loved one. 

  • Ask Your Loved Ones For Their Preferred Taste. Choosing the best products to gain weight doesn't mean that your loved ones need to have a trade-off with taste. Ask your loved ones about the flavors they love, and if a product is unflavored, you could add some pairings to make the meal more appetizing, such as mixing it with juice or your loved one's favorite snack. 

  • Accommodate Specialized Nutritional Needs. In some situations, your loved ones might require special products to help them meet their weight gain goals. For instance, food thickeners can make a big difference for individuals with dysphagia, while a highly digestible formula can help fortify enteral feeding meals. 

Commonly asked questions about weight gain

1) What if my loved ones face difficulty chewing or swallowing? 

It's important to avoid serving large chunks of food if your loved ones face these issues to prevent choking hazards. Consider adding thickeners such as Thick-It Food & Drink Thickener to make the portions easier to digest while giving them an enjoyable consistency that reignites a passion for food.

2. Is it necessary for older adults to increase their protein intake for weight gain?

According to medical research, older adults who consume more protein proved 30% less likely to be functionally impaired. These bodily functions include the ability to build muscle for healthy weight gain. 

Additionally, it's reported that one-third of older adults lack an adequate amount of protein due to various health challenges, such as dental problems and swallowing issues. So in most situations, there's a need to increase protein intake for older adults as part of their weight gain plan. 

3. What else should I consider for improving weight gain efforts?

The success of weight gain among people ultimately differs according to their diet and bodily needs. However, there are some practices that can benefit most individuals in their weight gain journey. These include planning small meals throughout the day instead of three big ones, choosing products high in healthy calories, and enhancing a meal with more flavor and texture to make it more appetizing. 

Need Help?

Choosing the right product can be overwhelming, but Carewell's here to help. If you need help finding the perfect product for your needs, talk to one of our Caregiving Specialists today. Call (800) 696-CARE, email, or click the live chat feature at the bottom of the page. We're here to support you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

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Brianna Maguire
Brianna Maguire

Brianna Maguire heads up Carewell’s Customer Care Team, and serves as a resource for caregivers that need support. Whether it’s helping customers decide which products are best for their needs, answering caregiver questions, or just providing a shoulder to lean on on a tough day, her job is to make caregivers’ lives easier.